Over the past two weeks, we’ve heard from diverse voices speaking on their experiences at mosques throughout North America (South Africa, Europe and the UK as well).
Many are driven out of the mosque by an insular and disengaged mosque culture, by misogynist and patriarchal structures, or were never involved with the mosque to begin with — either because they chose not to, or circumstance has kept some Muslims isolated from larger pockets of the community.
Others argue that the unmosqued movement is flawed, and that it’s not the responsibility of the mosque to cater to every type of Muslim. Commenter Sabina feels that her struggles with the mosque is her jihad, and that it’s worth it to remain connected to the community despite some negative experiences.
Regardless of the reasons, it is clear that there are growing numbers of Muslims who feel excluded. Discussions like this blog series and the Unmosqued movie are needed to help bring this discussion out into the public — so mosques can recognize, and hopefully address the facts that they are becoming insignificant, are failing community members and will slowly be replaced by other community institutions, unless something drastic happens to change the situation.
As an active proponent for inclusive women’s spaces in the mosque, I was not the least bit surprised to hear that both men and women are unmosqued because an overwhelming amount of mosques are unfriendly toward women. When half of the ummah is excluded from positions of power, from participation in sacred knowledge, from even entering a mosque — why then are people surprised when entire families stop attending the mosque? The Hubby and I refused to get married at a mosque because we wanted a mixed setting — one where my non-Muslim parents could sit together during the ceremony, and not one mosque agreed to accommodate us.
Commenter FloweryHedgehog said it perfectly:
When mosques are set up in ways that make it difficult for women to participate,… and then our further exclusion is justified by the fact that we don’t show up to the mosque anyway, then something is seriously wrong in our communities.
Just because mosques overflow during Ramadan and the two ‘Eids, it’s not reason enough to rest upon these laurels. Muslims are disappointed in their mosques as the central community institution and are actively pronouncing their disappointment by leaving.
It’s time to reshape and reclaim the mosque.
According to our participants, mosques need to change attitudes, create positive spaces for women and concentrate on outreach programs — be consciously committed to creating, open, fun, inclusive spaces and evolve to include the growing and diverse Muslim population. They need to become involved in the greater human community — to champion social causes and be known for their good works. To become welcoming interfaith spaces and community build. They need to actively serve their people so their community can become empowered materially, ideologically and spiritually.
I want to thank all of our participants again for this thrilling discussion and extend a warm thank you to all the commenters. We’ll close up this roundtable with just one more discussion question — but let’s keep the discussion going. Share your opinion in the comments. And if you have a mosque that you’re absolutely in love with, tell us all about it!
What do you think mosques need to do in order to be relevant today? How can mosques reconnect? Do we even need them anymore?